Plans for KFC and Costa Coffee in Hemsworth approved
Plans for a KFC and Costa Coffee on the site of Hemsworth's old marketplace have been given the go-ahead.
The outlets, which will bring a combined total of around 60 jobs to the town, were given planning permission by Wakefield councillors on Thursday afternoon.
A total of 81 letters had been submitted in support of the scheme from residents, but local councillor Ian Womersley, who was one of 24 objectors, described the development as a "tragedy waiting to happen", for people living very close to the site.
In a passionate address to the planning committee, he said that building a KFC and a Costa had the "potential" to increase levels of anti-social behaviour in the area.
Coun Womersley said: "There's people living in houses 15 feet away from the entrance. They're in their 60s and 70s and they've lived there all their lives. What about their concerns?
"Those houses will be devalued, because who's going to want to buy a house right next to that development? I think the answer to that will be very few."
Coun Womersley, a former police officer, raised the prospect of late night fights at the site between punters spilling out of one of the local pubs.
He added: "If people want to go for a KFC or a Costa, and things get a little bit heated because they've had a drink, it's those residents who will suffer.
"What they've said to me is, "It's all right for them, because they can go home (afterwards). We are at home.""
West Yorkshire Police had lodged an objection to the application on the grounds of anti-social behaviour, but withdrew it after developers promised the car park would be gated off to vehicles after KFC closes at 11pm.
And committee member Councillor David Jones, who represents Pontefract, said the link between the site and petty crime was "erroneous".
He said: "There's about five pubs within 10 to 20 metres of the KFC in Pontefract town centre.
"I have regular conversations with the police but they don't report to me that there's any problems on a Friday or Saturday night.
"In terms of Costa, going for a coffee is a completely different experience, and it doesn't attract that sort of clientelle (that you're referring to)."
Both Councillor Womersley and fellow objector Jim Kenyon, of Hemsworth Town Council, said they would have been in favour of the development if it had been proposed in another part of the town.
The marketplace has been empty since traders left the site in 2018.
Councillors voted almost unanimously in favour of the development.
Local Democracy Reporting Service